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A lot has happened in 2013 and 2014 related to urban agriculture in Boston, and around the state of Massachusetts. Here is a quick review of some of it:
Article 89 – Amended zoning in Massachusetts
“Article 89 applies citywide and was adopted into the Boston Zoning Code in December 2013. The Zoning Code is a legal document that establishes rules around land use, building dimensions, and permitting requirements for the city. Through the Zoning Code, Boston promotes community development in a way that is consistent with the needs, desires, and character of the city’s neighborhoods.
Through the addition of Article 89, the City of Boston has updated its Zoning Code to facilitate the development of many diverse urban agriculture activities. Article 89 focuses on reducing barriers to commercial agriculture, thereby promoting economic opportunity and self-sufficiency for food producers.”
See more information – Article 89 – User Guide.
If urban farming took off, what would Boston look like?
“Until the turn of the 20th century, it wasn’t all that unusual for Bostonians to earn their living through farming, and as late as 1895, the city was producing more crops and livestock products than any Massachusetts town except Dartmouth. This changed as the city modernized and grew denser, driving real estate prices up and eventually, in 1965, leading to the passage of a citywide zoning code that introduced all kinds of bureaucratic obstacles to starting a farm anywhere in Boston.
No longer. The new zoning ordinance, known as Article 89, explicitly lays out what kinds of farms Bostonians are allowed to start—from how many acres they can be to whether farmers are allowed to slaughter chickens on site. (The answer to that second one is no.) Thomas M. Menino signed off on the ordinance as one of his final acts as mayor, opening the door to an unfamiliar vision of Boston—as a city that grows its own food.
What will urban farming look like? The most obvious agrarian fantasies—cows grazing on the Common, like they did until 1830, or the concrete bustle of Dewey Square giving way to the peaceful swaying of corn stalks—are, perhaps just as obviously, the least likely to happen. But not every farm looks like a farm any more. A new type of agriculture has been sprouting up in urban centers like Tokyo, New York, and Vancouver, British Columbia, and Boston’s new ordinance opens the city up to a whole range of ideas about how to integrate food production into city life.”
Bay State Bannor – Mayor, local activists break ground on new Roxbury farm plot under city’s new commercial farm zoning
City Soil joined with the The Trust for Public Land, and the Urban Farming Institute of Boston, with the support of Mayor Marty Walsh, to help urban farming continue to thrive.
Mayor Martin Walsh…issued an official proclamation of July 11 as “Urban Agriculture Day” in Boston.”
Edible Boston – Composting in the Commonwealth
Read the article about food waste diversion, composting, and local urban agriculture. Composting in the Commonwealth – Edible Boston.
Buy Local – Sustainable Business Network and Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
The Patrick Administration’s Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) this year announced $300,000 in funding for seven Buy Local Groups, including the Sustainable Business Network, to enhance agriculture in communities across the state.
SBN is the Buy Local representative for the Boston area, and the 2014 grant will go towards funding their Boston Local Food Festival in Fall 2015!
“Sustainable Business Network (SBN) will receive $30,000 to increase local food sales and business collaborations across Massachusetts through the Boston Local Food Festival which aims to promote ‘Healthy Local Food for All’ annual event. SBN is headquartered in Cambridge.”
“Buy Local groups create and foster a successful, personal relationship between regional agriculture and their communities,” said MDAR Commissioner Greg Watson. “The Patrick Administration is thrilled to support these organizations and looking forward to the central Massachusetts region benefitting from the Buy Local movement.”
YES! Magazine – Cities are NOW! – Rooftops to Vacant Lots, Where Urban Farmers Find Land
YES! Magazine’s recent issue “Cities are NOW” has a great article on community land trusts, the Urban Farming Institute, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, The Food Project, and others! Written by Penn Loh at Tufts Urban & Environmental Planning.
Sneak peak – pages 34 and 35.
Read more – Land, Co-Ops, Compost – A local food economy emerges in Boston’s poorest neighborhoods.